Their decisions weren’t too difficult to make.
Mattituck High School lacrosse standouts Sofia Knudsen and Alex Clark knew early in the recruiting process at what schools they wanted to continue their sports careers and education.
For Knudsen, it was Mercy University in upstate Dobbs Ferry.
“They reached out to me first and I had a friend that was already on the team,” she said. “I knew it’s a good program and good academics.”
For Clark, it was St. Leo University in St. Leo, Fla., north of Tampa.
“When I went down, I visited a couple schools down in Florida,” he said. “St. Leo’s stood out. We got an opportunity to meet all the players and coaches. They were really nice and welcoming.”
Both seniors made their college intentions public during a ceremony at the high school on Tuesday, Nov. 21.
It was quite appropriate that the announcements were made in front of the athletics trophy case that houses the plaques that the boys and girls teams earned as Suffolk County Class D champions in May.
Both sets of parents attended the National Letter of Intent ceremony — Dina and William Knudsen, and Michelle and Terrence Clark.
“It’s great that your peers and underclassmen are here to see you do this,” athletic director Greggory Wormuth said. “It’s a showcase of your dedication, hard work for what you’ve done in these programs at Mattituck, the time you put to get to where you are, and for your teammates to see that. We have a season to go. We expect a lot of big things from both of you this season.”
Both student athletes received scholarships.
Wearing a Mercy sweatshirt emblazoned with the Mavericks women’s lacrosse logo, Knudsen said that she was sold on the Mercy campus.
“It’s a real pretty area. The field was right on the Hudson River,” she added. “This campus is not too big, not too small.”
Knudsen said that she plans on majoring in criminal justice and forensic science with hopes of entering detective work and joining the FBI someday.
Clark, who wore a St. Leo lacrosse sweatshirt and hoodie, doesn’t have a major at the moment. But he also felt campus size was important to him.
“It was really comfortable,” he said. “It’s not too big. I thought I would like a big school but after going to St. Leo, I realized it was probably better for me to be at a smaller school.”
Both colleges compete at the Division II level. St. Leo finished at 9-7, reaching the Sunshine State Conference Championship tournament. Mercy was East Coast Conference champions for the second year in a row with a 13-6 record.
Before the two players can perform for their respective colleges, they have some unfinished business at Mattituck. They will play for their respective Tuckers basketball teams before turning their energy to lacrosse in March.
Their coaches, who attended the ceremony, expect big things from their big-time players.
“It’s just nice when good things pan out for good kids,” girls coach Logan McGinn said. “She’s like a sponge. She listens to everything. She’s a hard worker. Even at our open workouts, she’s staying after practice working on form, on her shot. That’s a testament of how far she’s gotten.”
Knudsen, who scored two vital late goals in the 15-12 semifinal win over Center Moriches, collected 28 goals and six assists last spring.
“I’m expecting a lot out of Sofia,” McGinn said. “I know what she can do on the field. She’s going to keep progressing and getting better. But the older you get the more leadership to take on. So I’m definitely excited to see her kind of take on that leadership role and be a part of that. She’s the right person for the job.”
Clark, who recorded a hat-trick as the Tuckers recorded a 12-5 triumph over Babylon in the Class B final, finished with 12 goals and 14 assists.
“It’s pretty cool to see come full circle because in my second year of teaching, I had Alex in my fifth-grade classroom,” boys coach John Amato said. “We always talked about his future and if he put in the work and what’s possible for him. Just to see it come to fruition for him is really rewarding.
“Alex is a very good athlete that has a motor that doesn’t stop. He’s a committed athlete who works on his craft. He’s always practicing. What I love most about Alex, is that he’s a team guy. He sets the tone for the rest of the team.”